Philippine Sports Controversies

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Philippine sports controversies refer to sporting events, sports-related incidents, or sports personalities in the Philippines that made headlines because of their negative implications not only to sports in the country but also to Filipino society in general. These controversies reveal the ugly side of sports and have been, in most cases, among the primary reasons for the low morale of Filipino athletes.

Nature of Philippine sports controversies

As a general principle, sports represents positive ideas and values. Discipline, perseverance, honesty, and sportsmanship are concepts that are strengthened when a person engages in any sports or sports-related activities. But when controversies in sports take place, what is displayed in public are the malicious accusations, bickerings, and name-callings between and among athletes and sports officials.

Controversies in Philippine sports are no different, as both Filipino athletes and officials have also figured in similar public spectacles. Over the past few decades, this fact has been a reality that Philippine sports had to contend with. However, the effects are magnified in the poor performance of Filipino athletes, especially in international competitions.


In most cases, the nature of sports controversies in the Philippines are related to dishonesty. Accusations of cheating abound, whether in professional or amateur sports. This is especially true in sports tournaments where the participation of athletes are based on a certain age limit or residency in a particular place. The usual - and obvious - reason behind this is to gain a certain advantage over competitors.

Also included in allegations of cheating in sports are outcomes of games (mostly in international tournaments) where Filipino athletes have been allegedly cheated. Whether glaring or perceived, some outcomes of international sports competions involving Filipino athletes usually cause an uproar among sports fans and officials in the Philippines. An example of such results are in professional and amateur boxing tournaments, as well as basketball games where Filipinos are competing at a great disadvantage. In fact, many athletes have gone home not only bloodied but, in their view, robbed of a much deserved victory.

Game fixing

Cheating in the form of a predetermined game outcome is, allegedly, also prevalent in some sports in the Philippines. Called game fixing, this practice is usually associated with popular sports such as basketball (both amateur and professional), boxing, and even horse racing. What is much publicized, however, were the alleged game fixing incidents in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) during the 1970s and the 1980s. In fact, the name of Ramon Fernandez has always been mentioned regarding this controversy but nothing has ever been established or proven. The issue linking him to game fixing would eventually die down and would have no effect on his professional basketball career.

With little proof to back the allegations, only a few cases of game fixing have been made public and investigated by concerned government offices like the Games and Amusements Board (GAB). And in most cases, the issue only went as far as the initial investigations. Inevitably, game fixing issues in Philippine sports wind up as a collection of hear-say and gossip that Filipinos lose interest in after a certain period of time.

Financial matters

Financial issues and money matters are also sources of controversy in Philippine sports. This is one sports controversy that is difficult to hide from the public as it involves a large amount of money. More often than not, sports officials are involved as they are the ones authorized to disburse or spend money on behalf of Filipino athletes.

There are also instances when government officials involved in sports programs would be charged with graft due to unliquidated or misused funds. This was the case when the Philippines hosted the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila. The same is true when issues are raised about inadequate funding for the training and equipment needs of Filipino athletes.

Leadership struggle

Politics also destroy the idea of sportsmanship in Philippine sports, especially among leaders of national sports associations (NSAs). A bitter struggle for leadership in certain NSAs often result in accusations of incompetence, mismanagement, and illegal activities among competing leaders. Such conflicts have become detrimental to the athletes' welfare as the leaders themselves do not bear the impact of the leadership struggle.

What happened to the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) is a classic example of leadership struggle in an NSA in the country. The question of who is the legitimate leader has even reached the courts and resulted in the formation of another group when conflicts were not settled. In the process, the Philippines was suspended from competing in tournaments sanctioned by the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA). In this regard, there have also been instances when other NSAs have been suspended due to power struggles between the sports leaders.

Controversial personalities

There are Philippine sports personalities who are magnets for controversies - whether they do something or not. Their presence is enough to generate news. What they do inside and outside the sporting arena - if they are athletes - are even bigger news. The same is true with sports officials and their decisions, policies, and philosophies in sports.

Nancy Navalta and Go Teng-kok are just two Filipino sports personalities that captured the imagination of sports afficionados. Go became famous - or infamous to his detractors - because of his programs in track and field, chess, and Philippine sports in general. Navalta, on the other hand, was a promising sprinter but her career got derailed because of accusations that she is a hermaphrodite, a person having different (two) sexual organs (or different sexual characteristics). In between Go and Navalta are other Filipino sports personalities that led equally colorful and controversial lives and career.

Other controversies

Other Philippine sports controversies would fall in the nature of illegal drug/substance intake, violence, illicit affairs, and dismal performance in international competitions.

List of Philippine sports controversies

In no particular order, the following are some of the controversies that hounded Philippine sports over the past few decades.

(to access the knowledge database on Philippine sports controversies, click Philippine Sports Controversies link)



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